Paul Fairweather
3 min readMay 14, 2024


Carl keeps my pencil sharp and to the point.

This essay is a tribute to my good friend and co-founder of TEDxBrisbane, the irrepressible Carl Lindgren, who passed away two years ago on this day. Carl was among the most curious, creative, and motivated people I have met. He had a great sense of humour, never sought the limelight, and made his own luck, time and time again.

Carl was diagnosed with a brain tumour in mid-2021 and was given a prognosis of 3 to five years, but sadly only had 12 months.

When he was first diagnosed, he texted me to say that he had been given a great gift that he needed to share with me and that he also had an idea for a new TEDx, TEDxIT. IT? Prey tell, I texted back. What is the gift and the IT bit? Too important; I need to see you in person.

A few weeks later, when he opened his door, tears welled in my eyes the moment I saw him. There he stood with half his head shaved and a visible scar. We had planned to go out for coffee, but I needed to sit in the quiet of his living room to hear his story.

His gift was a sense of enlightenment that he had received after the prognosis had set in, allowing him to see reality very clearly, a heightened sense of acceptance. The downside was that he could not think about the future and ideas, which is the universe he used to inhabit. I assumed this would be a living hell for a pedigree ideas person, but Carl accepted it peacefully. For him the only thing that was left was being in the moment with his family and friends.

The gift that Carl gave me was his observation that there was something extraordinary about me. He left me wondering whether that was extraordinarily good or negative, as he had to rush to a medical appointment.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that he told me what that extraordinary was, which turned out to be positive and negative.

Carl observed that I was engaged, energised, fun, enthusiastic and optimistic when I stepped into my creativity. But when I got sucked into minutia, worrying and getting involved with things that were of no consequence, I was the opposite of all those things.

I have a big photo of Carl above my computer to remind me daily to step into my creativity. I don’t always achieve this, but when I do, I feel so much better within myself, and I suspect the world feels better about me, too. Carl sharpened my sense of how I show up in the world. The point of my creativity.

I also happen to have this Carl Brand pencil sharpener. I take it to all the masterclasses I run to remind me to step into my creativity and hopefully give others permission and space to do the same.

And Carl’s idea for TEDxIT. I totally missed it, TEDexit.

A sense of humour to the end. I miss him dearly.